Fanfare Contributor Bio
I was born in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1945. When I was six years old my family moved to Albany, New York. I’ve spent most of my adult life in and around New York City and thus have enjoyed ready access to its musical riches.
I became a classical music lover at age three, when my parents started me listening to their collection of 78 rpm albums. My favorite pieces at that age were the Mozart Horn Concerto No. 3, Haydn’s Cello Concerto in D and three works of Schubert: the “Arpeggione” Sonata (played on the cello by Emanuel Feuermann), the Sonatina No. 1 for violin and piano, and the Trio No. 1. My mother started taking me to concerts when I was four, and I’ve been attending concert and opera performances regularly ever since.
I acquired a few mono LPs (which I still have) in early teen age, but I became a “serious record collector” only as an undergraduate at Cornell University in the 1960s. A friend in the student residence where I was living showed me his record player and modest collection of chamber music recordings, and I was very taken with the way he could bring girls to his room and impress them with how cultured and sophisticated he was. My collecting mania soon tremendously outstripped its original motivation, however, to the extent that over a 20-year period I accumulated more than 5,000 LPs, most of which I still have, with only a very limited income. During my undergraduate years I also greatly expanded my musical horizons, discovering Bruckner and Mahler, Bach cantatas, Beethoven quartets, Brahms chamber music, Boris Godunov, and many other glorious works.
After Cornell I went on to graduate school in Russian history at Columbia, eventually earning a Ph.D. as well as meeting the woman who would become my wife. Our first date was a performance of Eugene Onegin at the Met. The second was Boris Godunov. During this period I spent two years in Russia (1974–75 and 1981–82), pursuing historical research during the day and haunting the concert halls and opera houses of Moscow and Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was then known) in the evenings. I also took the opportunity to acquire a large number of Russian recordings, which were available very cheaply. In the mid 1980s, however, facing a disastrous academic job market, I was compelled to find another way of making a living and as a result went to work for the Social Security Administration, from which I recently retired after 27 years of service.
I began collecting CDs in 1987 and have too many to count. They cover just about every square inch of wall space in my music room that is not occupied by audio equipment, LPs, and open reel tapes. The latter are the product of my practice over the last 30 years of recording concert and opera broadcasts of interest from the radio, and lately from the Internet. Now I use a much more cost- and space-efficient digital recorder for the purpose. My musical interests are very broad, covering the medieval period through the late 20th century. For obvious reasons, I have a special interest in Russian music but am also fascinated by the art of the conductor. When I choose a recording to play it is most often something from orchestral repertoire from Beethoven through Mahler.
Throughout life, music has been for me a source of spiritual renewal and exaltation as well as entertainment. The riches of classical music are amplified immeasurably by the variety of approaches that can be applied to a given work in performance. The quest to explore these riches drives me onward to an ever-increasing accumulation of recorded performances.